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Mexico’s first serious effort to promote justice for human rights abuses committed during its “dirty war” ended without fulfilling its objectives, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch said that the results from the Special Prosecutor’s Office created by the Fox administration to investigate these human rights violations are deeply disappointing. More than 600 “disappearances,” and the two student massacres of October 2, 1968 and June 10, 1971, remain unresolved. During its five years, the Special Prosecutor's Office, which formally closed when the government published its agreement A/317/06 in the federal official newspaper, did not obtain a single conviction and has made only limited progress in uncovering the fate of hundreds of people who were “disappeared” in the 1970s.

“The Special Prosecutor's Office may be gone, but the need to address the legacy of past abuses remains,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch. “Mexico must still find a way to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute these cases.”

Even with amnesty laws that impeded trying military officials for their participation in abuses committed by the brutal military regimes in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the democratic governments in those countries managed to promote accountability for past human rights abuses. In Argentina, the “full stop” and “due obedience” laws were annulled and declared unconstitutional, which allowed courts in 2006, for the first time in 20 years, to analyze cases on enforced disappearances and torture. The amnesty law in Chile generally does not apply to forced disappearance cases and the current administration said it would present a bill to prevent it from being applied in cases of grave human rights abuses. A recent judicial decision in Uruguay interpreted that its “expiration law” could not be applied to human rights abuses committed abroad.

“While other countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, are now making real advances in prosecuting past abuses, Mexico remains unwilling to do so,” said Vivanco.

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